5 Reasons Healthcare Shouldn't Fear Patient Negativity on Social Media

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that social media is revolutionizing the way that healthcare communicates. Many healthcare organizations have embraced social media as an opportune way to:

•    Listen

•    Build a community

•    Recruit employees

•    Manage a brand

•    Manage reputation and customer relations

•    Develop consumer, patient, and professional education

•    Monitor population and patients

•    Recruit clinical trial participants

•    Conduct research for product development

Yet there are still plenty in the industry that have not established any social media presence who could stand to benefit from the investment in time and resources. It seems counterintuitive that more healthcare organizations haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon considering that recent federal IT regulations emphasize improvements and a significant growth in patient engagement -- and social media is one of the most effective channels of communication to reach that goal!

With every investment comes an element of risk, and social media isn’t any different. Although it can be a very effective patient communication tool, healthcare entities that jump into the social media sphere also open themselves up to criticisms, complaints, objections, and grievances – all of which can make a C-level cringe and lose sleep at night wondering how this may affect the bottom line.

So maybe you are one of the ones still sitting on the social media sidelines, contemplating the pros and cons, still wondering what type of ripple effect negativity could have on your organization. Instead of fearing how negativity can hurt your reputation, fuel misunderstandings or (gasp) drive patients away, think about these 5 reasons that negativity on social media can instead be a benefit:

1.    Identifying areas of improvement

Participating in social media is bound to uncover some weaknesses in your organization. Maybe your admitting staff is consistently disrespectful to patients, or perhaps waiting times are abnormally high due to inefficient workflows. Patients seek this type of information so they can manage their expectations while healthcare organizations relish the opportunity to know what areas need improvement.

Negativity can be interpreted as an unfiltered look into your facility and help to more effectively identify areas of improvement that need immediate solutions for the good of everyone. Embrace negativity and offer thanks to those who take the time to express their feelings.

2.    Altering the course of a conversation